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(generated from captions) up to date and Neal Woolrich will come in from Lateline

business later on to discuss

those falls. Now moving on and

the Prime Minister is headed to

Washington for a meeting of G20 countries over the global

financial crisis but he leaves

behind two simmering rows, one

a leaked phone call between

Kevin Rudd and George W. Bush,

the second the Opposition

claims the Treasury cooked the

books to inflate its estimate

over Australia's economic

growth. One of those

criticising Ken Henry was

Andrew Robb. He joins us now

from Canberra. Ken Henry yesterday said it would have

been better had those comments

not been made. On reflection,

do you agree with that? Again,

the intro is not accurate. The

point is these comments were

never direct ed at officials.

This was a comment directed at

the Government and what we're

seeing from the Government is

an orchestrated campaign to

silence any critics on every

front, you know, if someone

says that if we question

infrastructure in any way, any

of the initiatives they're

taking, their lack of action,

we're told we're against

nation-building. If we ask any

questions about the way in

which they're rushing the

emissions trading design

scheme, we're told we're

sceptics. If we question any

documentation of the Government

or any programs, we're told

that we are attacking

officials, we're attacking the

regulators. All of of this is a

form of McCarthyism to silence

people at a time when, as

you've just reported in the

news, huge financial meltdown

causing tremendous problems in

the real economy now across the

world and the Government, it needs to be questioned. If it's

going to get things right, it

needs the discipline of people

like ourselves in Opposition

being able to ask questions

without some form of

McCarthyism. This was more than

asking a question. You nade an accusation of manipulation.

You're saying the Government

manipulated Treasury and

Treasury either were complicit

in this or too stupid to know

they were being manipulated.

No, the point was there was a

30% difference, Barrie, in the

forecast made by the

Government, by the Government

and by the Reserve Bank. I

heard the explanation by the

Treasurer, not by the

officials, by the Treasurer , and found it unconvincing and

we were entitled to ask a

question, you know, please

explain the difference. Please

explain the difference because

the growth rate is fundamental

to the response that the

Government is seeking to take

with a fiscal stimulus, with

other measures. It's

fundamental to know what's

coming down the track and it's

quite legitimate for us to

probe and to ask questions. We

we want to know the construct support the fiscal stimulus but

of it, how they arrived at it

and we will not be silenced,

Barrie, I'm telling you, and

this is directed at the

Government not at officials.

I've worked with Treasury off

and on over 25 years. I've got

enormous respect for Treasury

officials, this is a deliberate attempt by the Government to

trial and silence us from

asking them questions. We saw

it again with the issue of the

Prime Minister and the call

with President Bush. A total

disgrace which is going to

compromise his ability to have

a frank conversation with world

leaders for as long as he's

Prime Minister and that could

cause real serious damage to

our country. You say that you

weren't aiming any criticism at

Treasury but how could Treasury

allow itself to be manipulated

in this way and if they felt

they were being manipulated

don't you think Ken Henry would

have said so yesterday? The

Government here has sought to

put regulators in the frame. In

many respects, you know,

they're using officials as a

human shield on so many fronts.

I think it's something that

needs to be looked at. This

Government is hiding behind

officials, pushing them out to

the forefront and, you know, I

think it's unfair on officials,

the way in which the Government

is trying to put them out there

as human shields and use them

as a means of stopping us asking legitimate

questions. But you say they're

putting them out as human

shields. If people like Ken

Henry speak out, don't you

think we're all the better for

it? I think it's quite

appropriate, of course, for Ken

Henry to make public comments

but what I'm saying is that

every time we question a

Government action, every time

we question a Government

document, not a Treasury

document, a Government document

- and this isn't a Government

document, that document is a

Treasurer's document, that

document can be changed by the

Treasurer if he so chooses.

It's matter of public record

that Paul Keating did do just

that, he changed Treasury

forecasts, so it can be changed

Government document, not a by the Treasurer because it's a

Treasury document. In that

instance, to then hide behind

officials when we ask some

legitimate questions is

unacceptable, especially at a

time when such huge decisions

have been taken to look after

the future of the country, to

try to stop us get nothing to

recession, to make sure we

protect jobs as best we can,

the Government needs to be held

accountable. It's in their